Book ''Zj Z6>
But, Cards!— Well, it is cards that has brought out the sporting blood in us.
STORIKS OF THE GREAT
By EUGENE EDWARDS
can be played
but once a n/gAf
WITH OVER FIFTY ORIGINAL PEN AND INK
TWO COPIES HiiO.£iV t.J>. ^
Library of Congr9i%
Office of tbe
Kagltter of Copyrl£fbt%
I. What is Poker? — Its Origin, and Why We Like It. 7
II. The Early Days of Poker — Steamboat Games —
A Mammoth Raise — Bowie's Good Deed 22
III. Poker in Washington — A Story of Henry Clay —
Cabinet Players — Mahone's Rule — When
Reed Was Called 36
IV. Poker in London and Paris — John Bull's Two
Pair — A Game with the Prince of Wales 53
V. Poker and Jurisprudence — Various Decisions by
Legal Luminaries — How the Judge Over-
ruled the Motion— The Sheriff Took the Pot.. 67
VI. All about Jack Pots — A $1,200,000 Jack — Didn't
Know Greenbacks — Won on Two Deuces — A
Boston Man's Narrow Escape 85
VII. The Scheme for a National Jack Pot— A Jack Pot
Without Cards 104
VIII. Women and Poker — Arguments to Show that They
Can't Play and a Story to Prove that They
Can 1 14
IX. Old Time Poker in the South— A Jack Pot of
Niggers — Colonel Rafael and His Honor 130
X. Poker and Hypnotism — A Young Man Who can.
Read Card.s — How Five Aces were Beaten —
The Man Who Laid Down a Straight Flush. . 148
XL A Life-long Game — The Great Morgan-Danielson
Betting Match — Four Hours to Open a Jack
Pot — Three Thousand Dollars for a Nap 160
XII. About Bluffing — $200,000 on a Pair of Tens — A
Bluff that Turned into a Flush — Major
Edwards and the Tenderfoot 174
XIII. Tom Custer's Luck— A Girl Makes the Best Draw
on Record — How a Town-site was Won on
Two Deuces — Lucky Baldwin's Big Play i8g
XIV. Six Cards in One Hand — Two Games wherein Six
Cards Figured — What Became of the Extra
XV. Poker in the Centennial State — Big Betting on
Small Hands — How Three Klondikers Played
XVI. Children and Poker — Too Much Frankness —
Daddy and Dinah — How the Tom Fool had
them "All Alike " 230
XVII. The Police and the Gamblers— A Down East
Selectman — A Bunko Game at Los Angeles —
Story of the Short-Card Man 245
XVIII. Superstitious Players — Queens and Tens — Louis
Laid them Down — Euchre and Poker — An
Old Story 259
XIX. Reminiscences of William Hurt, Reformed — John
Dougherty's Bet of Arizona Territory — His
Adventures in Persia 271
XX. How the Bear Spoiled the Jack Pot — Touching
Tale of a Dog that Tipped off Poker Hands
to His Master 2S4
XXI. Practical Joking — How the Dentist was Fixed —
The Fresh Baseball Reporter and the Players 294
XXII. Crooked Gambling — An Expert Explains the Mys-
teries of Second Card, Paper Men and Hold
XXIII. Classic Tales of Poker— The One-Eyed Man-
Origin of the Looloo — Four Kings as Bank
Collateral — Jay Gould as a Philanthropist 317
XXIV. The Poetry of Poker— Ditties, Wise and Other-
wise, about the Great National Game 335
WHAT IS POKER ITS ORIGIN, AND WHY
WE LIKE IT.
All civilized nations love sport, but Americans
surpass all the world in that as in so many other re-
spects. That is because Americans are so little
conservative that they readily adopt all games
as their own. As in everything else, England is
shy of any but the customs that bear the mark of
her own breeding, and a game — out or indoor —
makes but slow progress in her affections. We have
been trying to introduce base ball into the
tight little island for twenty years, and although
we are told that there are clubs here and there
and hear dim rumors that some of the players are
crack-a-jacks, we never hear of any of our mag-
nates signing these phenoms, nor do we believe
there is in all Great Britain a boy who gets up in
the morning and makes a rush for the paper to see
the score before his father looks at it.
8 JACK POTS.
On the other hand, we have taken up cricket,
which is so essentially English that it takes three
days to play a match, and we have fairly gone daft
over the Scotch game of golf. The Indian game
of Lacrosse had quite a run a few years ago, and
even now occasionally sees the light on our north-
ern frontier, and we have even brought the game
of polo from far away India. If any nation has a
game that has in it the least element of attractive-
ness, let it be brought along and it will certainly be
given a respectful hearing.
But, cards ! — Well, it is cards that has brought
out the sporting blood in us. There are people
who will not believe this, and point to base ball.
They say ''Look at the thousands who attend a
game!" All right; look at them. Then consider
that the game only lasts for two hours and that
a big league city gets only fifty-seven games in an
entire season, if every scheduled game is played.
And then consider that the thousands of spectators
are not taking any actual part in the game ; they
are not playing. Apart from the boys, hundreds of
the spectators couldn't catch a fly ball with a net,
and for every man looking on there are a hundred
who are willing to simply read the account of the
game in the next morning's paper.
But cards w^e have with us always. There are
a few^ men who have never played cards in their
lives and for some inscrutable reason are proud of
WHAT IS POKER? 9
the fact, and a greater number who used to play
when they were boys but have no time for it now,
but the man who never in all his life fingered a pack
of cards is about as hard to find as the man who
never told a lie. Of course this would not have
held true thirty or forty years ago, when cards
were held up to scorn as the invention of the devil,
and all card players were placed but a shade above
a forger or pickpocket. We do not hear so much
of that wild talk nowadays.
In cards we are almost as radical as in out of
door sports. Faro, baccarat, rouge et noir, and
one or two others are decidedly foreign, and there
are more coming. Euchre is French, and seven-
up is our own. That is the country boy's game,
and many a hay mow has looked down on an ex-
citing game, when the old man had gone to town.
Euchre is the ladies' game because you can play it
any which way, and cheat and talk, and no one
will get very mad about it. Whist is never going to
be popular, no matter how many clubs are formed
or how many trophies are played for. There
is too much brain work about whist, pretty much
as in chess, and the ordinary man does not care
to expend more energy than would saw a cord of
wood for the sake of persuading himself that he
has had an hour's amusement. One reason whist
is played as much as it is, is owing to the idea in-
dustriously cultivated that the game is "respect-
lo JACK POTS.
able." Perhaps this is due to the fact that the
Queen of England plays whist, but she also drinks
Scotch whiskey, so that would hardly do to take
as an indorsement. In English novels the vicars
and curates always play whist, so that may be the
reason. At any rate the game is eminently "re-
spectable," and a lady never alludes to her last
visit to the whist club without a touch of con-
scious pride. It adds to her social standing, or she
thinks it does, which amounts to the same thing.
When you shuffle up all the games, however,
there is one that stands out before and beyond all
the others, like a lighthouse on the sea coast or
a water tank on a prairie, and that is POKER.
This is not a history, but it seems no more than
proper that a brief inquiry into the origin of the
game should be given place. It is claimed that it is
a descendant of the Spanish game of primero,
although the proof is not very clear. According
to the people who delve into such things, primero
was elaborated in France in the seventeenth cen-
tury into ambigu, in which the straight, the
straight flush, three of a kind, and four of a kind
were introduced. About this time a game called
post and pair, derived from primero, was played
in the West of England, and from this came brag,
on which Hoyle wrote a treatise in 175 1. In the
. game of brag, each player said ''I brag" as he
raised another player. Another authority claims
WHAT IS POKER? II
that poker is merely a variation from the Irish
game of spoil five.
If these explanations are true it is rather remark-
able that neither the Spanish, French, English or
Irish have a liking for the modern and
perfected game. Of course we know how
cordially Europeans detest innovations, but
that would mean that they would cling to
primero or ambigu, but they do not. In
spite of all temptations to belong to other nations
we must insist that poker is a thoroughly American
game, so much so that it has never taken root out-
side of this country, nor even in Canada, except
close to the border. General Schenck, our Minis-
ter to England years ago,- is credited with an at-
tempt to introduce it into that country for the de-
lectation of the natives, but what he really did was
to write a little manual of the game to relieve him-
self of the necessity of answering a thousand of in-
dividual questions. It was a passing craze, and we
cannot flatter ourselves that the great American
game has taken any hold of our British cousins. It
is a pity 'tis true, because they don't know what
they are missing. The Prince of Wales is the sporty
boy of the English speaking people, and if he had
been properly inoculated he would have set the
fashion and then there w^ould have been a grand
opening for an international show down. But
he is too old a dog to learn new tricks, and now
12 JACK POTS.
we will have to wait for the Duke of York. The
fact that he' is married and settled makes no dif-
ference, as it is a notorious fact that married men
make the best poker players.
Therefore we may say with truth that America
monopolizes the game of poker, and it certainly is
the game that best fits our national character. To
be a good poker plaj^jer requires nerve, and we have
that to perfection. It requires money, and we have
more than any other nation. It is a draft on the
physical strength, and we are strong; the players
must have brains, and there is where we lead the
In addition to this it is such a simple game to
learn. Anyone who knows how to play euchre
or seven-up can be taught the game of poker in
a half hour — and then spend the rest of his life
in learning it. That is the main beauty of the
game — you think you know it all after you have
played ten hands and then after a hundred seances
you begin to realize that there is something for you
to learn. There is so much human nature in it,
and human nature is so complex.
From these statements one would think that
Germans could play the game to perfection but
the fact that they don't shows that they can't. The
German is stolid, but he is too stolid. Chess just
suits him ; it is a game where he can take an hour
to a move, and everybody that looks on thinks he
WHAT IS POKER? 13
is" thinking. Of course the players have to think
in poker, and theoretically the player is allowed
to take his own time, but if he takes more* than the
fraction of a minute somebody is apt to make a
Then there is the Frenchman. He is lively and
vivacious, is apt to back his opinions with a wager
and has none of the stolidity of the German, but
he can't play poker. He is too excitable, he talks
too much, he wants to gabble over the hands that
have been played, and quick as he is, the game is
too fast for him.
You might think that the Englishman would
make the model poker player, but he doesn't. It
w^ould be all right if it wasn't for the bluffing part.
Where the cards play themselves the Englishman
is there every time, and he is a fine loser, but he
can't get it through his hair that a man can win on
the poorest hand through sheer force of nerve.
In every other game the cards practically play
themselves, but in poker the man plays the cards.
For a crowd there is not a finer game on earth
than faro on the square, but after all it is mere
chance. Systems don't amoui.t to air^^thing; the
system player is always broke, and the mjn that
shuts his eyes and claps down his chips at random
is just as liable to w^in as the man who has followed
faro for years. You can't bluff; skill and experi-
ence count for nothing; you are playing against
a box that has no feelings to betray its contents,
and after you have bucked up against it for ten
years y«u know no more than the man who has just
been introduced to the layout.
Then, unlike all other games, poker never ends.
When the hock card is in sight in faro, that is the
end of the deal; euchre and seven-up, and every
other game has a certain number of points and that
settles it, but a poker game can go on forever. The
hundredth deal around does not differ from the
first and a new player can come in at any stage of
the game, and have just the
same chance as the man who
has been sitting in all
looked at in an-
other light, per-
haps that is one
of the drawbacks.
The man who is
behind does not
want to quit,
and the man w^ho
is ahead is
• Hello! It's Eleven, boys."' ashauicd tO pull
out, and between these tw'o feelings the game
sometimes drags on until the players have to
quit through sheer weariness.
It is amusing to see some coteries making up
WHAT IS POKER? 15
their minds to limit the game. They sit down and
unanimously agree that they will not play a minute
after 11 p. m., because — well, for a whole lot of
reasons. When 1 1 p. m. comes along, it is let slide
by, and then at about half past eleven some one
says: "Hello! it's eleven, boys." Then they agree
to play one more round, and when that is done,
it is suggested that there be a round of jack pots.
After about six rounds of jack pots, then there is
one or two rounds of something else, and the end
of it is that the gathering scatters nearer to i a. m.
than 1 1 p. m. The only remedy for this sort of
thing is to have one of the players' wives send after
him, or for one man to get all the chips.
A good poker player would make a good actor.
He is compelled to do a lot of acting during a long
game. There are a few men who are gifted with
faces that have about as much expression as a lump
of dough and who never raise or lower their voices.
It takes a heap of luck to beat that kind of a man.
and most anybody would sooner play against a fel-
low wdio ripped and tore around occasionally. It is
a study to see the face of a man w^ho has just drawn
a filler to two pairs. As he picks up the cards ana
sees that it is just wdiat he wants, an expression of
deep gloom or utter disgust settles on his coun-
tenance, which then subsides into a state of resig-
nation, as if he might have know^n that he w^as too
unlucky to catch anything worth having. He ap-
1 6 JACK POTS.
pears to be depressed and he sees the other fellow
fingering the chips, and it is with the greatest re-
luctance he sees the bet and just lifts it one or two,
making the muttered remark that his hand can't
be beaten all the time. It is only when he makes
the final raise that he comes from behind the mask,
and the other fellow^ realizes that he has been lured
on to destruction. Happy is the man that can
play a full house and a pair of fours in exactly the
same way — he has a fortune at his finger ends.
It is this acting and pretence and chafif that
makes the game so delightful, and when these
frillings are absent one might as well play chess.
It is only a quarter of the fun to play the cards, the
rest is in playing the players. And what a school
of control it is ! OfBcers in the army and navy are
always capital players because they are taught to
restrain their tempers and emotions in the line of
duty until it becomes second nature to them.
Look at Admiral Dewey's face and see a crack po-
ker player. Note the square jaw, the immobile
lips and dreamy indifferent eyes that seem to say
*'I haven't a pair in my hand, and I'm only waiting
for you to chuck in a chip and you can have the
pot." And then, without a change of countenance
you can see him elevate the pot until you wouldn't
call him under fours.
The man who loses his temper in a poker game
will also lose his money. He will always be called
WHAT IS POKER? i7
when he bluffs, and when he gets a big hand he
will never get the value of it, because no one will
buck against him for fear of offending him by beat-
ing the hand. If he doesn't enjoy losing his money
he should affect indifference, or he is allowed to
indulge in sarcastic remarks, provided they are
witty as well. Nor does it do any harm to sympa-
thize with a loser if you are ahead. When he comes
to think it over afterwards, he w411 know that you
didn't mean it, but it does him good at the time.
There is another beauty about the game of poker
that I almost forgot to mention. The amount of
the stake has nothing to do with the pleasure of
the game. I don't mean to say that a high roller
who has been in the habit of making it ten dollars
to draw cards every time could calmly contemplate
five cent ante with a fifty cent limit with the same
crowd, but take him out of the environment and he
could. I have played penny ante with a ten cent
limit, and found myself getting hot around the
collar when I had a flush beaten for thirty cents.
When the pot has been fattened by two or three
raises before the draw and everybody is in, the
.excitement is something tremendous when every-
body stays, and the limit is bet the first crack. No,
I'm not the least ashamed of it. The three other
men could have lost ten thousand at a sitting and
never felt it, but they wanted to play poker just for
the fun of it, with no hard feelings afterwards. But
1 8 JACK POTS.
that is true about the way you feel, and I suppose
is pretty much on the principle of hunting ; the boy
who is out after rabbits feeling his heart beat as
high as the man in the jungle lying in wait for a
The "draw" in poker is an addition to the origi-
nal game. At first it was played ''straight," that
is, you got five cards and had no chance to better
your hand. Once in a very long while you may
hear of straight poker being played, but it is more
for the novelty than because it is liked. The draw
IS certainly the life of poker. There are such vast
possibilities in it; so many utterly barren hands
have blossomed into life under the influence of the
draw that the player is constantly being buoyed
up with hope. He is in the depths of despair in-
deed when he throws up his cards and won't draw
to a little pair when there has been a raise. To
do that and then look and see 'Svhat you would
have got," and find that you would have had the
winning hand, is one of the moments of anguish
few can bear without wincing.
Innovations in poker have been many, and it
would need a special chapter to describe them all,.
but the only one that has met with universal favor
is the jack pot. First introduced as a varient, it
spurred up many a lagging game, and made an
always exciting wind up to a night's performance.
From this it naturally progressed to jack pots on
WHAT IS POKER? 19
any provocation, and finally on none at all — that is,
the game became one of all jack pots. This comes
under the head of the things that if you like them
they are just the things you like. The main objec-
tion to jack pots is that they are apt to prove too
expensive for small wads. While it is true that you
can play even on a couple of jack pots, it is also
true that you can go broke with equal facility, as
you must come in on every deal until some one
opens the pot, and then maybe you can't come in at
all. But, as revolutions never go backw^ard, the
jack pot and its brothers are here to stay.
Here it may be noted that it is only within the
last twenty years that straights have been played in
the Western States. And, of course, if straights
weren't played neither was the straight flush, so
that four aces was an absolutely sure thing. The
introduction of the straight flush was a good thing
because it took away the sure thing element, and it
allows a man to bet on four aces with a clear con-
science. It doesn't seem so much like highway
robbery when you know there is about one chance
ill ten thousand that your opponent has a straight
flush against your aces, although you would be
paralyzed if he had.
As said before — several times before, perhaps —
this is no history of poker, with the dates and the
names of the men who introduced this or that, and
when they did it ; neither is it an attempt to teach
20 JACK POTS.
anyone the game, which no one has ever yet done
on paper or ever will; but it may incidently
straighten out some controversial points over
which men pull guns occasionally in certain locali-
ties, and in other places get black in the face talk-
ing over them.
There is no harm, however, in putting down
here, for the benefit of the reader who has only
heard about poker and never played it, the rank of
the playing hands, so that he may see how exceed-
ingly simple the game is. They run thus :
Suit makes no difference; that is, a flush of
hearts is no better than clubs or any other suit;
only the rank of the cards is considered. Nor have
I put down here all innovations, such as kilters,
drags, blazes, and many others which are played
in various localities, because you have to learn
them when you run up against the men who play
them, and that is time enough.
However this is enough to enable those who
WHAT IS POKER? 21
laugh the loudest at a minstrel poker joke to oc-
casionally have some perception as to what they are
laughing- at. It is a cold fact that the man who is
away u]) on poker generally preserves a stony
silence while the end man is describing his tribula-
tions with four aces ; it is the other fellow who has
his girl with him that is convulsed with merriment.
It is a good play ; it makes her think he is a devil of
a fellow when out of her sight.
However, that's neither here nor there. Here
THE EARLY DAYS OF POKER STEAMBOAT GAMES
A MAMMOTH RAISE BOWIE's GOOD DEED,
We do not think that there is any raih'oad in
this country where card playing is forbidden in its
coaches, but in the East and North gambUng is not
course, if two or
more players are
willing to put up
so much a corner,
and keep the cash
out of sight, that
is their business
and the conduc-
tor cannot very
well interfere, but
such a thing as
pla y i n g with
chips or money in
sight would be called down in short order. In the
West and South affairs are on an easier basis, and
on many roads card betting is an every day affair,
and creates no remark except from those inti-
mately concerned. It is not so long ago since gangs
of professional gamblers regularly worked all the
Playing with chips or money in sight would
be called down.
THE EARLY DAYS OF POKER. 23,
trains west of the Mississippi River, with every im-
aginable device to deceive the unwary. So openly
was this done — and is still done on some roads—
that it conveyed an impression that the train hands
stood in with the sharpers, and got a whack at the
spoil. cl»wm)1 ^ :\ > \ - ....' . r
That, however, is not a necessary sequence. The
conductors and brakemen do not perhaps feel any
great sympathy for the victims, because they ought
to know enough to keep out of games with
strangers after all the warnings that have been pub-
lished. But the train hands would interfere, were
it not for the fact that they would get small thanks
from the suckers they saved and on the other hand
stand a chance of being assaulted by the sharpers.
So long as there is no rule of the company against
the practice, the train hands are justified in suppos-
ing that the passengers know enough to protect
But, gambling in its palmiest days on the rail-
roads never began to touch the days when steam-
boats were the chief means of inter-state travel.
Before railroads criss-crossed the country in every
direction, the two main arteries of travel were the
Ohio and Mississippi Rivers. Practically there was
no west or northwest before 1850, and the Ohio
and Mississippi filled the bill for south, southwest
and the middle section.
Those were the davs before the war when cotton
24 JACK POTS.
was king. In those days the Southerners had lots
of money and spent it freely. As a rule they did
not even wait until the cotton was raised and baled,
they mortgaged their crops in advance, and if
money ran too short there was always a slave or
two that could be disposed of at fancy figures.
The boats were nothing like the floating palaces
such as now run on river and lake, but they were
considered grand affairs for those days, and no
doubt were comfortable enough, certainly more so
for a three or four days journey than a railway
coach is to-day. Here could be seen a group of
men with broad straw hats, duck or linen suits of
ample cut, sallow faces, fierce mustaches and keen
eyes; men who were addicted to mint juleps and
other fancy drinks ; who were suave in speech and
extravagantly polite, and who always carried re-
volvers and knives which they used on small pro-
To such, card playing came as natural as drink-
ing and they did more of each than eating or sleep-
ing. It was nothing unusual for an open game to
be run in the saloon all day and night from the
time the boat left the wharf on the upper river until
she landed at her destination. Private coteries were
made up and played twenty-four hours at a stretch,
the deck hands had their games at intervals and the
pilot at the wheel took a hand when he was off
duty. In short, everybody played or looked on,
THE EARLY DAYS OF POKER. 25
ready to play at the first chance, if they had the
money. Among friends, notes or I O U's would
go, but in an open game only money counted, and
it was "put up or shut up."
Here was the paradise of the professional poker
player, and no boat was without its complement.
They passed all their time traveling up and down
the river, cheating when they had an opportunity,
and playing a square game when they must. As
a rule, they knew their men, and did not attempt
any tricks on the planters who could lose a fortune
without a murmur, but who would carve a man
into bits at the least suspicion of foul play. They
w^ere loaded with money and won many a hand on
a bluff, where the game was without limit. If a
man demanded a sight for his money he might get
it, but the game would end right there. Generally
the man kept on until he had up every cent in the
world, and sometimes even the most reckless
Southern high roller would not hesitate to risk five
thousand on a pair of fives.
Sometimes these gentry were beaten at their
own game in this respect. On one occasion an
army paymaster was traveling down the Ohio and
dropped into a friendly game with three gentle-
manly sharpers, and incidently dropped about five
hundred dollars before he knew where he w^as at.
About the same time he realized that he was up
against it, and he settled down to get even.
26 JACK POTS.
Being an excellent player, he held his own for
awhile, and even got a little ahead. His opponents
soon saw that the ordinary methods of cheating
would not answer with this man, so they resorted
to crowding him out of every good pot by a sys-
tem of raising each other. He tumbled to that
plan also, but could make no objection, and bided
his time. Presently it came.
It w^as his deal, so he felt morally certain that it
was fair, and he dealt himself three queens. The
age on his left lifted the ante, his chum helped it
along and the pot was pretty fat when cards were
drawn. The paymaster did not help his hand, but,
as he said afterwards he felt sure that it was the
best out. Then the betting began.
The man next the age bet ten dollars; the next
man raised it fifty; the paymaster called, and the
age raised another fifty. In turn he was lifted a
hundred, the next man ^raised a hundred and the
paymaster called again, only to be again raised by
the age. This sort of thing went on until it be-
came perfectly evident to the paymaster as well as
the onlookers that the paymaster was not to be
allowed to call.
This merry little game of freeze out went on
until there was $2,600 on the table, and then at a
preconcerted signal no doubt, the age raised
five hundred, the next man saw the five hundred
and raised it a thousand, and the third man saw
both raisers and lifted it five thousand.
THE EARLY DAYS OF POKER.
The paymastei' looked on in apparent sur-
"Sixty-five hundred?" he said, inquiringly.
'That's what," replied the age briefly. Then he
added, as if overcome with disappointment, 'T
guess that lets me out."
The paymaster sized up the situation. The
money up represented the combined capital of the
gang, and if he drew out,
the raise would not be
called, and the five-thousand
dollar man would
b e allowed t o
walk off with the
pot without a
show down, and
would whack up when they went
ashore. He put in about two
minutes in some mighty heavy
uc 1 >) 1 'tit A^ Now I'D give you fifteen
bee here, he said at length, minutes to raise the money.
w-ri ' ,1 1 •, T 1 or the pot's mine.
ihis rather hits me. I have
the money to call, but I don't want to risk it all on
one hand, as I tell you honestly I can't afford to
lose it. Couldn't you cut down the pot and give
me a show."
''I could but I won't," replied the five-thousand
dollar man, with cool insolence. "You knew this
28 JACK POTS.
game was without limit when you came in.
Now I'll give you just fifteen minutes to raise the
money, or the pot's mine." .
The paymaster turned to a tall, grave man stand-
ing by the table, a well known horse dealer, and an
*'Is that right, Mr. Shaw?" he asked.
"I am sorry to say it is," was the reply. ''At the
same time," he added, significantly, ''if you suspect
any crooked work" — .
"No, no," said the paymaster, hastily. "I only
wanted to know my rights in this afiFair. Fifteen
minutes, you said?"
"Yes; and no more."
During the entire game a young well dressed
man had been standing near the paymaster, watch-
ing with evident anxiety the progress of the game.
It was his clerk, although no one knew^ of their re-
lations and to the clerk the paymaster now turned
and said, "Charley, go to my state room and bring
me my valise."
The clerk who had been very red now turned
pale, and made an efifort to speak, but was silenced
with an imperative wave of the hand. He went
away and when he returned and placed a bulky
valise by the paymaster's knee, he was trembling
in every limb.
By this time the tension was tremendous. Every
eye was fixed on the paymaster, and the gamblers
THE EARLY DAYS OF POKER. 29
began to realize that something was going to hap-
pen that boded them no good. The paymaster
opened the bag, and took out package after pack-
age of crisp banknotes and laid them on the. table.
"Now, gentlemen," he said, pleasantly, ''since
you insist upon playing without limit I am obliged
to acquiesce. I will see your sixty-five hundred
and raise you fifty thousand !"
Two of the gamblers gave vent to an involuntary
cry of surprise, while the third fell back in his chair
with white face and clenched lips. The paymaster
put his hand in a casual way in his breast pocket,
his clerk did the same, and Mr. Shaw moved a step
nearer the table. But the gamblers were in no
mood for violence, especially as they saw no sym-
pathy in the eyes of the spectators.
The paymaster pulled out his watch, and in a
tone as insolent as the other had assumed, said :
'T'll give you just fifteen minutes to see the raise,
or ril take the pot."
The three men looked at each other in mute de-
spair. There wasn't a station within ten miles and
not a man on the boat that would have let them
have fifty thousand on four aces under the circum-
stances. They sat in moody silence for fifteen
minutes, as if hoping that the money would drop
through the roof, and at the end of that time, arose
and walked away with as much indifference as they
could assume. At the first landing they got off
30 JACK POTS.
and the paymaster packed his money back in the
vaHse. It was Uncle Sam's money to pay troops,
and if he had lost it, he had determined to kill
himself; as it was he determined to never again
play poker with strangers — at least, without a
Another anecdote of the river days of long ago
brings to view a character that could hardly exist
now and be famous in the same way. The scene
is laid on the steamer Orleans, running between
Natchez and New Orleans in the fall of 1832.
A young man of Natchez, going North in sum-
mer on his wedding trip, had been commissioned
by a number of merchants and planters in his
neighborhood to collect various accounts due them
in New York and other places which he proposed
to visit. The young man was the soul of honor,
but not very strong in resolution; in fact, he was
rather an easy mark if worked in the proper way.
Unfortunately this became known to the ring of
gamblers who were working the rivers, and they
laid their plans accordingly. Some of their mem-
bers made his acquaintance in New York, and
learned that he would return South by way of
Pittsburg, where he was to take the boat for Louis-
ville, and after spending a few days there, take an-
other boat for New Orleans that stopped at
Natchez. In pursuance of the plan, one of the
gang met him on the boat at Pittsburg and intro-
THE EARLY DAYS OF POKER. $1
duced him to two alleged Louisiana planters who
made themselves quite agreeable. On the way
down to Louisville, several friendly games of poker
were played, in all of which the young man came
out a little ahead, so that he was in high good
humor when they got ready to pluck him in ear-
nest, which was on board the Orleans.
The game was played with a short deck of thirty-
two cards, the same as a euchre deck, which of
course was conducive to holding fat hands in al-
most every deal, and led to high betting. The
three confederates worked the cross lifting trick
on the victim, together with an occasional bit of
cheating, until the poor fellow had but a few thou-
sands left when the boat neared Vicksburg, where
it was the sharpers' intention to give him the shake.
The poor fellow was already nearly crazed w^ith
his losses, realizing that he was not only ruined but
dishonored, and his yoimg wife was in terrible dis-
tress over this unlooked for termination of their
honeymoon. Yet he kept on playing on the des-
perate chance of redeeming his money.
When the boat was within a half day's run of
Vicksburg there came on board a tall man with a
smooth shaven face, who looked like a preacher,
and he with others stood looking at the game in
the men's cabin. x\t midnight the last dollar of the
dupe had been raked in, and rising from the table,
he rushed wildlv to the side of the vessel, and was
only prevented by his wife's arms from throwing
Suddenly the clerical looking man made his ap-
pearance by the side of the distracted wife, and
said, quietly, 'Take
him to your cabin,
and watch h i m
closely until I re-
Going back to the
cabin where the
gamblers were hav-
ing a hilarious time
at the bar, the stran-
ger drew out an im-
mense roll of notes,
and asked the bar-
tender to change a
hundred dollar bill.
Was only prevented by his wife's arms from ^ ^ ^^^^ "-^ Oblige
throwing himself overboard. VOU but I Cau't "
was the reply. '' Perhaps some of these gentlemen
can do it."
One of the gamblers very readily made the de-
sired change, and also invited the stranger to have
a drink. They soon fell into conversation, and it
was not long until a game of poker was proposed,
and after some demur the stranger consented.
The ante was five dollars, and as there was al-
THE EARLY DAYS OF POKER. 33
ways a straddle, it rarely cost less than forty dol-
lars to play, and the betting" ran rather high. The
stranger managed to keep a little ahead of the
game until near morning, and then came the
The pot was fattened up to nearly five hundred
dollars before the draw, and then the betting was
fast and furious. Finally two ol the players
dropped out, leaving only a big whiskered fellow
and the stranger. As the bets rose by thousands
the gambler's face began to assume an anxious
look, while the other was pale and cool, rather
sleepy in fact, although he never took his eyes off
his adversary's hands.
At last more than seventy thousand dollars
were piled up on the cloth, and the stranger said
quietly, "I call you." Then he added sharply:
*'One moment, please." He laid his cards face up
on the table, disclosing four kings and a ten. 'This
is poker, and five cards constitute a hand. If you
can show four aces, and no more than five cards
in your hand, the pot is yours. But," and here,
with a sudden movement he drew from his coat a
long and keen knife, ''if you have more or less than
five cards I will kill you where you sit."
The gambler held his cards in his hands in front
of him, and it was noticed that they trembled per-
ceptibly. The stranger held the deadly knife in
his hand, and although he was still pale, and his
voice had not been raised above its usual tones,
his eyes glowed like fire, and he looked like an
avenging demon. All three gamblers were armed,
but none made a movement to draw a weapon, and
they sat there for a minute the very pictures of
''Come," said the stranger, smoothly. "Your
hand has been called; what have you got? Don't
take your hands
out of sight ; show
down the cards
just as they are."
at his compan-
ions furtively and
saw no encour-
agement in their
faces, and then
with a muttered curse, threw
his hand into the deck. The
stranger with his left hand
took off his large felt hat, swept the money into it,
and clapped it on his head, keeping the knife in his
right hand all the time.
"Now, gentlemen," he said, suavely, 'T am
going to restore the money you have robbed to
the victim. It is fortunate for you," he added, turn-
ing to his opponent, "that you did not disclose
But! and here, with a sudden
movement he drew from his
coat a long and keen knife.
THE EARLY DAYS OF POKER. 35
your hand with its four aces, because it had six
cards, and you wouldn't have been ahve now. The
next time you fleece a gentleman learn to have
As he turned to go after this little lecture, one
of the gamblers cried: ''Who the devil are you?"
"James Bowie," was the answer.
The voice was like velvet, but the sharpers
jumped as if shot. Bowie was known from one end
of the river to the other, and it was a surprising
chance that he had not been recognized by any one
in the cabin. But the name was enough ; the gam-
blers shrank away from this dreaded man who,
without another glance, made his way to the cabin
where the wife was still trying to soothe her hus-
Bowie emptied the contents of his hat before the
astounded pair, and in a few minutes the young
man was in possession of all that he had lost.
"Now, my dear sir," said the noted duellist, "let
me advise you as a man of the world to never
touch another card. You see how nearly it has
brought you to shame ; believe me it can never
bring you happiness. Before I leave you, let me
have your sworn promise."
The young man took the oath with tears in his
eyes, and then begged that his benefactor accom-
pany him home, but Bowie refused, and at the first
landing place, got off the boat, and they never saw
POKER IN WASHINGTON A STORY OF HENRY^ CLAY
CABINET PLAYERS MAHONE'S RULE
WHEN REED WAS CALLED.
Washington is popularly regarded as the great
poker center of the United States, and there are
many reasons for the belief. There is a feverish
air about Washington life that conduces to card
playing. Public office is largely a game of chance
in this country, despite the strides made by the
Civil Service, and the man who goes to Washing-
ton in an official capacity feels that he will be there
to-day and home to-morrow. Very few of the thou-
sands of clerks regard their places as more than
temporary until they have been there at least five
years, and by that time they have contracted habits
of careless spending that they can hardly throw off.
Then there comes every two years to the na-
tion's capital a number of new congressmen who
feel flushed with wealth on a salary of five thou-
sand a year. Many of them could not earn half
that sum at their occupation, and especially as the
money comes easily they fritter away a great deal
of it in dissipation. To these classes are to be
added the diplomatic corps, many of the attaches
being young bloods sent abroad for the good of
POKER IN WASHINGTON. 37
the family, and they have nothing to do with their
salaries but to spend them in good living, and that
includes card playing. In addition, when Congress
is in session, the whole town is in a fever of excite-
ment, and the easiest way to work off the surplus
steam is with a pack of cards.
Washington is full of poker stories, because
from all accounts, every administration, at least
from Jackson's down, indulged in the game. Lin-
coln didn't ; he was of too serious mood to care for
the game; and of course, Hayes wouldn't touch a
card; although there is reason to think that he
knew something about the game. Arthur was a
splendid player; Garfield, only fair. Cleveland's
cabinet was full of poker players; and — although
you wouldn't think it to look at his grave and al-
most solemn features — Gresham was king of them
all. Carlisle is a shrewd player but lacks nerve —
that is, he can't bluff 'successfully.
It doesn't sound likely, but they say that Cleve-
land did not learn to play poker until he came to
Washington. He went off on one of his famous
duck hunting expeditions with Gresham and Car-
lisle, and when he came back he had been inocu-
lated. After that he took a hand whenever the
opportunity offered, but he always played a small
game ; rarely winning or losing more than ten dol-
lars at a sitting. Dan Lamont used to play heavily
before he got into public life, but w^hen he saw the
possibilities he dropped poker. ,
Going back to the old timers, practically all of
the congressmen before the war played poker, and
did not try to conceal it as they do now. Henry
Clay was a famous player, and won a fortune in
his time. There is a funny story about Clay that
illustrates the character of the man.
There was in Washington an old darkey whom
Clay had befriended, a poor fellow who had quite
among his people
as a preacher.
One day as the
enue, the old fel-
low tackled him.
It was on Sunday
B o b,"
''Y e s, Marse
Henry; de airly
bird ketches de
''Oh, you are worm hunting, are you?"
"No, Marse Henry," said the old fellow, sol-
emnly, "TsQ lookin' for help for my little church."
Bob, here is fifty dollars that I won at
poker last night.
POKER IN WASHINGTON. 39
"I won't give you a cent," said Clay, decidedly.
"I gave you something only last week for your
"Yes, Marse Henry, so you did; and dat," rais-
ing his eyes piously, ''dat's a treasure laid up for
you in Hebben."
''Oh, is it?" said the Senator, smiling. Then he
pulled out of his pocket a roll of bills, and con-
tinued. "Bob, here is fifty dollars I won at po-
ker last night. Now, if you can reconcile it with
your conscience to use money got in that way
for church purposes, take it along."
Old Bob bowed and pulled his cap.
^'Sarvant, Marse Henry; thankee, sah. God do
move in a musterious way his wonders to per-
x-\nd he walked ofi. with the money.
Another Kentucky man, a senator, although not
from that State, says that his seat there and all he
has besides is due to a poker game, and tries to
prove it with the following story.
''I was born and bred in old Kentucky, and
strange as it sounds, it was in a highly moral town
where games of chance were not tolerated. It was
no use bucking against the law; no matter what
the position in life of the offender, if he was caught
gambling up he went. But of course there was
gambling, and the very lawyers and judges that en-
forced the law would take every opportunity to
have a quiet game,
40 JACK POTS.
"One night, during a June term of court, the
judge and visiting lawyers arranged for a game,
and as it would never do to make such a venture in
the hotel, a flatboat moored at the foot of the levee
was pitched upon as an ideal place. Jt was supposed
that it would be out of sight and hearing of the
moral little burg.
"Accordingly that night two tables were set up
in the cabin, and nine members of the legal profes-
sion were bending over the game with all the na-
tive ardor of Kentucky gentlemen. It was about
this time that I, in company with a friend, strolled
in the vicinity of the flatboat. I was about twenty
years of age and had no money, and my friend was
on a par.
''On discovering the old folks thus engaged a de-
sire to be humorous swept over us. We were law
students ; they were full fledged, and that was rea-
son enough for the joke. We cast off the boat,
and silently she drifted away on the dark bosom
of the river. The grave and reverend gamesters
drew and filled and straddled, until along about two
o'clock in the morning, and then Colonel Bugg
concluded he had better quit, and look over his
brief for next day. The gallant old fellow put on
his hat, bade every one good night, walked off
where he thought the gang plank ought to be —
and w^alked into twenty feet of water !
"Of course there was a howl for help, and he
POKER IN WASHINGTON.
was fished out with considerable difficulty. Then
the startling discovery was made that the boat
was twenty miles down stream. The whoops and
yells of the voy-
brought a tug to
the rescue, and
they were towed
back to town —
only to find the
waiting to run in
the whole party.
In the frank en-
thusiasm of youth
we had related
our doings, and
there was no es-
cape from the
stern rule of jus-
'There was a
terrible row over the affair. Publicly we were com-
mended, privately we were threatened with death
by the gentlemen we had betrayed, and we knew
that some of them would shoot on sight. We took
counsel of our fears, and lit out for the West.
'That was forty-five years ago. My partner in
villainy is now a United States Judge, and I am
Walked off where he thought the gang
plank ought to be.
42 JACK POTS.
a Senator. We often discuss the past, and we lay
everything to that flatboat poker game."
^ When General Mahone held Virginia in his vest
pocket he was a figure in Washington poker cir-
cles. He was cool and nervy, and withal played
poker Hke a gentleman.
Once he was in a game at Chamberlin's, which
included several Senators, and nobody was winning
or losing very much ; in fact the game was rather
slow which probably suggested what follows. A
deal was just beginning where Mahone was the
age, and the General had anted when a waiter
called him from the room to speak to some gentle-
man who wanted to see him.
As he closed the door behind him the Western
Senator who was dealing remarked :
''Let's put up a joke on Mahone. I'll deal him
three queens on the go-off and fix up B next
him with a straight flush, and then let Mahone get
another queen in the draw. I'd like to see how
long and how hard the General will bet four
queens. Of course we can give the money back
The others thought this a good joke, and the
hands were fixed up accordingly. Everybody had
picked up his hand when the General came back,
and as he took his seat and reached for his cards,
the dealer remarked, ''Hurry up, General, we're
waiting for you."
POKER IN WASHINGTON. 43
General Mahone looked at his hand, discarded,
and said: ''Give me one card."
The dealer gave the General the fourth queen
which lay on the top of the deck, and gave B
next to him one card — the diamond he was after.
And then they all leaned back to see B and the
General buck each other, and to hear what the
General would say when he lost on four queens.
It was B 's first bet, and he threw down a
white chip. Of course everybody was confident
the General would raise him. That was where they
were disappointed. To their amazement, and with-
out a moment's hesitation, without a word of com-
ment or any gesture that would indicate either sur-
prise or disgust, Mahone threw his hand into the
discard, and as nobody had bet against B he
took in the little pot without opposition.
Mahone then reached for the deck and pro-
ceeded to calmly shuf^e the cards for the next deal.
The others looked at each other in surprise, and the
Senator who had put up the hands, said with a
"B , you had better give the General his
Then they all laughed, while Mahone betrayed
''Why didn't you bet your four queens?" asked
another player. "Did you suspect a joke or think
some one was trying to rob you?"
44 JACK POTS.
"No, sir," replied General Mahone, with perfect
gravity, "I have the utmost confidence in the hon-
esty of every gentleman present, and I haven't the
remotest idea that any one of you would rob me,
but I make an inflexible rule to never bet a high
hand when I have been absent through the deal.
To be out of the room and then to return and pick
up three queens and get a fourth on a one card
draw is to me very alarming. So, of course, I
threw my hand in the discard."
**Well, General," said the Senator who dealt the
cards, ''it was a joke, and I must compliment you
on the manner in which you received it. It showed,
sir, that you are a Southern gentleman, and was
complimentary alike to yourself and to us."
Then they called in a couple of cold bottles, and
the game went on.
%/ Ex-Speaker Reed used to relax on poker once
in a while, but he was very moderate, and they say
in Washington that he never raised more than fifty
cents in his hfe. He was also noted for never win-
ning anything, but takes his ill fortune with cool
On one occasion at the Shoreham a small game
was raging with great fury, and by some miracle
Reed managed to capture a nine full. He saw /
visions of fortune before him, especially as Riley of
Pennsylvania^^a man who would bet a quarter
without a quiver — showed a disposition to dispute
POKER IN WASHINGTON.
the pot with him. So he went diHgently to work to
raise Riley. And the reckless Riley on his part
invariably raised the Speaker, without any rev-
So they kept see-sawing until the total of the
wealth on the green cloth must have equalled six
dollars. At last
Reed called, and
to his disgust
Riley laid down a
queen full. As he
spread the cards
out on the table,
Reed peered over
them with much
the same air tliat
he used to employ
to count the
House on a rismg He saw visions of fortunes before him.
vote, and then as
he settled back in his chair, he drawled forth dis-
gustedly that formula wherewith the Speaker an-
nounces that a call for the ayes and noes has been
"Clearly a sufficient number," he said, and Riley
raked in the pot.
(^Senator Wolcott is one of the coolest men liv-
ing when engaged in a poker game. Like most
men whose early manhood has been spent on the
46 JACK POTS.
frontier, he learned the vahie of a poker hand, and
he was known as a hmit player all over Colorado
before he ever gained any fame as a lawyer.
Wolcott once found himself in a poker game
where three of the other players were working a
sure thing. They were professionals and were after
a big bundle that Wolcott was known to have, as
well as looking out for the wad of Durkin, the fifth
player, a mining operator. Durkin was uncon-
scious but Wolcott knew in twenty minutes after
the first hand was dealt that the intention was to
rob him, and set his mind to find his way out.
At last he was dealt a pat flush of diamonds,
made up of the five, seven, eight, nine and jack.
He skinned these cards over and did a heap of
thinking. He felt in his bones that a flush would
be no good on the show down, but he chipped in
and stayed to draw cards.
He wasn't raised before the draw, and that
strengthened his impression, so he looked over his
red hand and concluded to draw a card in order if
possible to straighten the sequence. He pondered
a long time which to let go but finally threw away
the jack, and called for a card. The dealer could
not conceal his surprise at his wanting any, but
gave him the card.
Wolcott picked it up and found that he had got
the six spot of diamonds. He never turned a hair.
The betting began and he nursed the sequence, and
POKER IN WASHINGTON. 47
just stayed along, letting the other fellows do the
raising. At last it got down to Wolcott and one
of the professionals. Finally there was a call, and
the other man showed four queens. Wolcott laid
down the five, six, seven, eight and nine of dia-
monds and swept in the pot. Then he took Durkin
by the collar and marched him out of the room.
He said afterwards that it was the greatest piece of
luck that he ever had in a poker game.
VSenator Harris, of Tennessee, used to be an in-
veterate poker player, and his limit was penny-
ante. During the struggle over the Wilson Tarifif
Bill, when the whole country was churned up, the
House was surprised one day to see the venerable
•statesman wandering about inquiring for Repre-
uSentative Tarsney. When he found him, the tw^o
men engaged in an animated conversation for ten
minutes, and the people in the gallery, and all the
correspondents were tremendously excited. Tars-
ney was a member of the Ways and Means Com-
mittee, and this talk with Harris was no doubt due
to some tariff complication that would affect the
The correspondents hammered out many an ex-
citing tale about this conference, and it was only
by interviewing Tarsney that the truth came out.
"Tarsney," said Senator Harris, solemnly, *T
want you to come to my rooms to-night to play
penny ante. Do you play penny ante, Tarsney?"
48 JACK POTS.
''Yes," said Tarsney, with equal solemnity, "I
do, whenever I can gain the consent of my wife."
'Then," said Senator Harris, fiercely, "get your
wife's consent^ and come over to my room to-night.
Blackburn will be here, and I will get DuBois.
The limit is twenty-five cents, and the ante is two-
call-five. You know the rules of my room, sir?"
"No, I don't."
"Well, sir," went on Senator Harris, still keeping
up his tone of determined fury, "the rules of my
room are these. As we sit down to the game I
give every gentleman present a drink of Tennes-
see whiskey that is fifty years old, sir. After that
nobody gets a drink unless he loses money to me.
If those rules are agreeable to you, sir, I shall be
proud to see you at my rooms to-night."
Tarsney was there, and he took care to lose a pot
occasionally to the host.
As a rule the diplomatic corps is treated with
elaborate politeness by the residents of Washing-
ton as it is Understood that they are not used to
our ways and it is advisable to not convey wrong
impressions. But occasionally, the love of a joke
gets away with the young bloods, and they play a
Herr Von S of the German embassy was a
popular diplomat, and had been taught the game
of poker, or the rudiments, and that was the basis
of the joke. A party of young bloods got him
POKER IN WASHINGTON. 49
into a social game and on the fifth or sixth hand,
dealt him six cards. On discovering this fact, he
laid them down, remarking that he would not play
The dealer asked the reason, and when told, pre-
tended to be highly offended, and declared that it
was a reflection on him, and that the German must
play the hand. The foreigner reiterated the state-
ment that he would not play it. Then the fun
The players began to wrangle among themselves
over the decision, took sides, and in a few minutes,
there was a flash of steel, pistols leaped from hip
pockets, dirks, bowie knives, and even razors w^ere
drawn. The air also became lurid with profanity
that would have enlightened a cowboy in the elas-
ticity and scope of the English language.
Appalled at such an amazing spectacle, Herr
Von S must have felt cold chills running up
and down his spine, but he never weakened. With
a nerve and manliness that equalled anything ever
seen on the field of battle, he rose to his feet, and
said, ''Gentlemen, I know not this game entirely,
but I have been told that I am right. I will not
play these cards. My life is in your hands.".
The joke had gone too far however for the
young bloods to be satisfied with such a tame end-
ing, and they kept up their wild whoops, and the
flourishing of weapons. Then they apparently be-
gan fighting among themselves, shooting point
blank, clutching throats with vengeful fury and
stabbing like wild men. In the midst of it all the
German made his way out of the room.
A f tA<>^^^ speaking of the
game of cards
in which he had
taken part, he
gave a brief and
account of the
which his exit
had been accomplished:
"I was a great many
times getting out of the
One night on
Hill there was a
"I will not play these cards. My
life is in your hands."
able game of poker, in which no Congressmen or
diplom.ats were engaged. There were just four old
cronies, all business men. They had just dropped
in, and began to talk over old times when they
were youngsters. Some one remembered the way
they used to play poker with gun wads for chips
and a dry goods box in the back shed for a table,
so it wasn't singular that some other one suggested
POKER IN WASHINGTON. 51
that it would be a good idea to have a game just
for old times.
The host got out a deck of cards and his wife's
button bag, and it happened that there were
twenty buttons apiece. Then there was a raking of
pockets which disclosed the fact that there wasn't
more than two dollars in cash in the crowd.
The game then proceeded, but after only a few
hands the host remarked in a casual way that he
wished they were playing sure enough poker. The
man to his left skinned over his cards, acquiesced
in the desire, and, strange to say, the two other
men said they were more than willing to make it
the real thing for that hand anyhow.
The buttons had been bet already, and as there
was no money in the party, it was decided to use
simple articles easy of identification as markers
for the amounts each player should bet. With this
understanding the limit was taken off, and the fun
The host bet ten dollars and put up a cigar as a
marker, and the next man raised it and shoved in
a key ring as a representative of forty dollars. So
it went around until there was on the table an ag-
glomeration of the various things men carry in
When they got ready to draw cards the expect
ant dealer was amazed to find that none of the
players wanted any, and just to be in the fashion
he didn't take any himself. Then the betting be-
gan furiously, and everything the players had witli
the m, whose disap-
pearance would not
cause too much
inquiry on the
part of their
wives were put
up as markers for
At last it came
around to the
host for the fifth
time and he de-
termined to call.
He reached out
and picked up an
empty coal scut-
"This goes for
sixty dollars," he
said, hoarsely. "I've got four jacks."
The other players laid down respectively a nine
full on five, a seven full on kings and four deuces.
The winner swept all the markers into the coal
scuttle and the game broke up. The next day the
coal scuttle man received $260 apiece from each of
the other men.
"This goes for sixty dollars " he said,
hoarsely, "I've got four jacks."
POKER IN LONDON AND PARIS JOHN BULL'S TWO
PAIR A GAME WITH THE PRINCE
It is a long cry from Washington to London,
but not where cards are concerned. As explained
at the beginning poker has never taken deep root
in Great Britain, but it occasionally crops out with
generally humorous results.
On the staff of the American legation in London
some years ago there was a Major, who, like all
army officers, could play a stiff game, but who had
been rather out of his element for several months,
as our Minister was a man who frowned on gam-
bling in any form and that kept the staff subdued.
But one day there came to town a couple of the
Major's friends from the land of the stars and
stripes, and the trio had two or three little sittings
to the refreshment of all concerned.
Then one night the Americans brought to the
Major's rooms a Scotch manufacturer and an Eng-
lish M. P., a regular John Bull, gentlemanly and
pig-headed as they make them. After drinks and
cigars around, one of the Americans suggested
poker, but the Alajor demurred. Poker, he re-
marked, was a very dangerous game, particularly
54 JACK POTS.
as his friends (he modestly omitted any reference
to himself) were hot stuff, and it was possible to
lose considerable money at the pastime without
At this the Scotchman remarked that he had
learned the game in the States, and he thought he
was cautious enough to restrain his ardor, and
the Englishman said that he knew he had to learn
the game sometime in his life, and this seemed a
''V\\ take five pounds' worth of chips as a
starter," said he, "and if some one will kindly mark
the value of the hands on a piece of paper, I'll pick
up the game as I go along."
"I don't like the idea of playing poker with a
man who knows absolutely nothing about the
game, particularly in my own rooms," said the
Major, with an anxious look at the others.
But the Englishman was insistent, and as there
was risk of offending him if refusal was persisted
in, the Major gave way. The American who sat
on the right of the M. P. marked the value of the
hands on a sheet of paper, and passed it around.
It was all right, and, after a few other minutes
passed in explaining about the deal and the draw,
the game started.
The limit was five shillings. For an hour there
was no decided advantage, and although, like all
new players, the Englishman had a proclivity for
POKER IN LONDON AND PARIS. 55
coming in on every hand, he held his own. He
also showed the peculiarity of new players in re-
garding two pairs as a world beater, and he re-
marked several times that they looked much bigger
In the middle of the second hour there w^as an
intermission for refreshments. You know what
that is. Nobody stops playing; time is too pre-
cious for that. Each man grabs a sandwich or
whatever there is to devour and chews at it, while
with the other hand he skins his cards or fingers
his chips. This was a new feature to the English-
man, and it seemed to affect his luck when the
game was resumed in earnest. At any rate he
made a half dozen disastrous bets, on all of which
the Major profited.
Then the game went on in a monotonous way,
and the Americans could not fail to observe that
the M. P. was thinking that this great American
game was no great shakes after all. Then, of
course, came the star hand, of which there is al-
ways one if you play long enough.
It was the Major's deal, and the Englishman had
the age. The American on his left dropped out,
but all th'e others came in. There was a raise be-
fore the draw, and the man who had dropped out
looked at the Englishman's hand and advised him
to stay. The Englishman took one card ; the other
three drew three cards.
The first man bet a chip, the Scotchman saw it,
the Major Hfted it five shilhngs and the M. P. bet
the Hmit. The American — who had three tens and
a pair of fours — reciprocated, the Scotchman pru-
dently dropped out, and the Major tihed it the
hmit. The American looked at his full house with
an inquiring air, and simply stayed, but when the
Major and the honorable member from Stogis-on-
the-Des raised the limit again, he soured on his
hand and threw it
into the deck.
This left the bet-
ting between the
Major and John
After about six
raises the Major
thought it had
gone far enough,
and said, warn-
ingly, 'T'd go a
bit slow, old man,
remember, this is your first
game of poker."
By this time the other
American had taken a look
at the Englishman's hand,
and whispered something
in his ear, with the result that he promptly
The three had a drink and seemed
so hilarious that they
POKER IN LONDON AND PARIS. 57
raised the Major. Then both Americans went
oft to the other end of the room where there
was a bottle of the real stuff, and took a drink with
much merriment. After about ten more raises the
Englishman had to buy more chips, which gave
the Major another opportifnity to remind him that
this was his first game of poker and that he must
not bet over the strength of his hand.
"That's all right," responded the stubborn John
Bull, and he threw another half sovereign in the
''Now, old chap," said the Major, solemnly,
"don't blame me if you lose your money."
At this the two Americans took the Scotchman
over to the sideboard, and the three had a drink
and seemed so hilarious that they nearly choked.
The Major was rather nettled at this, and remarked
that they had better be giving their friend some
good advice, than laughing like hyenas. The only
result of their admonition was that the three men
went off into convulsions, and one man actually
went into the adjoining bed room, threw himself
down, and fairly yelled. Whenever the Major sug-
gested to the Englishman that he really ought to
call or else he would be sorry for it, there came
another roar from the trio.
Finally John Bull got to the end of his money
and putting his last half sovereign in the pot, he
said, "I'll call you. What have you got?"
S8 JACK POTS.
Hearing this the others rushed up to the table.
The Major looked at the pot, but did not reach for
it. He did not want to be in a hurry because he
knew it was his, and he hated to hurt the English-
man's feelings. At last he said very slowly and
almost sorrowfully, "I've got four jacks."
The Englishman laid his cards face upwards on
the table, and asked ''Do I wan?" He had four
It took the Major some time to take in the full
humor of the situation, but he did. The painful
feature of the affair was that the Englishrnan
thought he was betting his money on two pairs.
He had simply followed the advice of the Ameri-
can, who, upon seeing his cards, had advised him to
''bet until he was dead."
He did not go quite so far as that, which was a
good thing for the Major.
It is only a step across the Channel, and we are
in Paris — "gay Paree,'' you know, where all good
Americans go when they die. Of course Parisians
play cards, and they actually play poker, but in a
way that Americans would hardly recognize. It is
a kind of mixture of a sand bag and a freeze out,
with the dangerous qualities of each.
It starts ofif in a club, and a steward or croupier,
or whatever his name may be, holds in his hands a
list of names. The first six on the list are "sitting
in." Each has declared his stake ; one $50, another
POKER IN LONDON AND PARIS 59
$80, another $75, and so on, the limit of the dec-
laration being, for instance, $100. Chips arc
handed to each to represent the varying values,
and the game begins.
The limit of betting is the amount of chips be-
fore the player. The man with the $100 worth of
chips, to make a supposition, bets all of it on the
third deal. What becomes of -the man with $50,
if he has a good hand? He may put up his fifty
dollars, and get a sight for his money, and so with
ihe others. If he loses he is gone — scratched off
the list — and the steward reads ofT another name
to take his place.
There is no half way about it; it is win or bust
all the time. The Frenchmen have understood
that poker is a game of bluff and- high betting, and
nothing else ; they have missed entirely the quieter
features that make it loved. If four out of the six
are willing to play moderately, following some-
thing like the value of their hands, the other two
would shame them, dare them, crowd them. The
average Frenchman cannot stand to be ridiculed.
Around the table is a double row of spectators, and
they are in a continual state of awe and admira-
tion over the skill and daring of the bluffers, so
the sensible fellows are g^oaded until in a rash mo-
ment they plunge down their little pile, and out
Every once in a while an American gets intro-
6o JACK POTS.
duced to this French game of poker, and makes
up his mind to stand these sports on their heads,
but he doesn't. There are too many anoularities
about the game for him to grasp in less than a half
dozen sittings, and by that time his money is all
On one of his flying trips to the Continent, our
Parson Davies ran up against this sweet game, and
after being scratched five nights in succession, de-
clared that he thought poker as played in Paris de-
It does not follow from this that there is no real
poker played in Paris. There are enough Ameri-
cans, and all kinds of Americans to introduce any-
thing. They play among themselves, and have in-
troduced it into boarding houses, but they cannot
get the Frenchmen to play the game among them-
selves as it should be played. What the Parisians
need is an American Minister like Schenck to edu-
As said once before General Schenck was not
really an inveterate poker player, although he will
go down to history with a reputation on account of
the little treatise he wrote on the game, but he
could play with the best of them when in the
humor. A big corporation lawyer tells a story that
illustrates what a high roller Schenck could be.
'T was in London on business," said the lawyer,
"and having known Schenck in America, called on
POKER IN LONDON AND PARIS. 6i
him. He greeted me very cordially, showed me
around town and in a general way did the proper
" 'By the way/ said he, as we were about to sep-
arate one morning, 'what are you going to do this
*'I replied that I had nothing particular in view.
" Then,' said Schenck, cordially, 'there is going
to be a poker game at the Langham, and if you
care for the exercise I'd like to take you in. The
Prince of Wales will be one of the party.'
"Of course I couldn't resist that. I reflected
that it isn't often that an American citizen has a
chance to draw cards, raise and bluff against a real
prince, not an imitation Russian afTair, but a sure
enough heir apparent. I didn't care two cents for
poker — and, as a true born American, I ought not
to have cared for a prince of the blood — but it
would be an experience to tell my children wdien
they grew up, how their daddy beat the Prince of
Wales. Of course I counted on that.
"So I told Schenck I'd be there without fail, and
he expressed himself as very well pleased. One
thing I forgot. I didn't ask about the limit, but as
I had about two thousand dollars in good Ameri-
can money, I felt elegantly and superciliously safe.
Even if there was pretty high play, I would be
"Six o'clock came and I was at the Langham,
62 JACK POTS.
and the others came m later. With the Prince of
Wales came Anselm Rothschild and the Duke of
Marlborough, and these with ^Minister Schenck
and myself were to make up the game. I want to
say right here that the Prince is a gentleman from
the ground up. If he feels himself any better than
his fellow men, and no one can blame him if he
does, he never shows it, at least to Americans.
They have a saying in England that if the tight
little island ever becomes a republic, the Prince of
Wales would be elected President by a unanimous
vote, and I believe it.
*7ust after I was presented to the Prince I asked
Schenck in a whisper what limit was usually fixed
at these poker festivals, and, to my horror, he re-
plied in a careless aside that there was no limit.
"The Prince wouldn't listen to such thing as a
limit, explained Schenck. It would be beneath his
dignity to suggest a thing like that.
'T felt a cold chill running down my back, and
my two thousand dollars reposing in the vault of
the Bank of England began to assume the appear-
ance of very small potatoes. Here I was about to
buck up against England's heir apparent with the
entire revenues of Great Britain to draw upon and
a kindly Parliament to pay his debts, the Duke of
Marlborough with something like a million a year,
and a Rothschild, who could write his check for ten
millions without turning a hair. I began to think
of home and the dear old flag, and all that.
POKER IN LONDON AND PARIS.
*'It Started the perspiration, but I was in and
couldn't get out, so I made up my mind to stay
long enough to lose about a hundred dollars, and
then suddenly grow ill and extract myself. It
wouldn't do to have stomach ache, which was a
confoundedly plebeian ailment, and I deplored the
fact that I was not subject to fits, but I thought I
might ring in a pain of some kind, or perhaps fall
" And the first thing his Royal Highness said was, "Give me one
thousand pounds worth of chips.''
back on cold feet. Perhaps the Prince had been
occasionally troubled in that way, and would sym-
pathize with me.
*'As we sat down, however, two things happened
to disturb my dream of cold feet. Schenck was to
bank and the first thing His Royal Highness said
64 JACK POTS.
'' 'Give me one thousand pounds worth of chips.'
And he said it with no more emphasis than if it
had been: 'Pass the pie.'
"I began to reahze that I was hable to drop my
Httle old two thousand the first hand, and perhaps
before I had a chance to draw cards, and I in-
wardly prayed for an earthquake. But earthquakes
only visit London about once in a thousand years.
"To add to my grief the Rothschild chap placed
at his elbow a book of signed checks, with a blank
space for him to write in the amount, which he did
with a pencil, in a careless way as if he were keep-
ing count of hams. The only glimmer of hope on
the horizon was the conduct of the Duke of Marl-
borough. He acted like a perfect gentleman and
only bought two thousand dollars worth of checks.
'T steered by him, and also bought two thou-
sand dollars worth. Schenck gave me an approv-
ing smile, and I learned afterward that I did the
proper thing. It would not have been etiquette to
buy as much as the Prince. I was mighty glad of
that. I thought since that I would have been in
a fine fix if etiquette had required me to stpck up
with the Prince. 1 am afraid that I would have
stuck our Minister for his year's salary, and he
would never have spoken to me again.
''The horrors of that eventful night I can never
recall without a shudder. The ante was two
pounds — ten dollars — but that was a mere detail.
POKER IN LONDON AND PARIS. 65
The Prince would look at his cards in a careless
way, and remark T raise that a hundred pounds.'
"The bloated villain Rothschild would flip the
pasteboards in an indifferent manner, and observe,
with the same indifference to my feelings, T'll see
that and go fifty pounds better.'
"These blood curdling remarks would take place
before the draw, you understand. And then they
would lean back, and puff at their fifty-cent cigars,
call for what cards they wanted, and talk about
bets of five to ten thousand dollars, or anything
that happened to come into their wealthy heads.
'*Oh, how I wished I was a copper king of Mon-
tana, or a coal baron of Pennsylvania, or any other
fellow rolling in wealth, so that I could have socked
it to them ! I laid down hand after hand because
I couldn't stand the strain. Td pick up two stout
pair, get hoisted a couple of hundred before the
draw, and then get knocked out with a bet of two
thousand, and set back and see the Prince or
Rothschild pull in the pot on a pair of nines.
"That's the sort of company I was in, and I
didn'lr^see my way out the least bit. Lots of times
I felt morally certain that they were bluffing, but
I couldn't risk five thousand dollars on my opinion,
and I had to let it go. It wasn't poker at all ; it
was more like highway robbery. It was just pos-
sible that they might have a good hand and if I
run up against one my friend Schenck would be
ruined cashing my losses.
66 JACK POTS.
"At the end of an hour I was out twelve hundred
dollars; simply anted it away, so to speak, and
didn't have a bit of fun. Then, all of a sudden, I
got hold of three aces. It happened to be a jack
pot, very fat as you may believe, and I had them be-
fore the draw. I said to myself that it was now or
never, and I run my face for all sorts of raises.
Talk about cold feet ! When I tell my children
about that agonizing ten minutes, I never refer to
my feelings, and let them understand that their dad
was cool and collected.
''But I wasn't. The Prince and the Duke and
that Rothschild let me down rather easy — I sup-
pose they took pity on me, as it was the first hand I
had really played — at any rate there w^as a call, and
I won ten thousand dollars on the hand. Then, oh,
how I wished that I could get up and make my
escape, but that would not have been etiquette, so
I stayed on and kept on fooling away my chips as
''The end of it was that the game broke up at
midnight, and I was as happy as if I had w^on a
prize in a lottery when I found that I was out only
three hundred dollars. The experience was worth
the money, and I have had lots of fun talking about
it, but I w^ouldn't go through it again until I get
to be about ten times a millionaire."
POKER AND JURISPRUDENCE VARIOUS -DECISIONS BY
LEGAL LUMINARIES — HOW THE JUDGE OVER-
RULED THE MOTION THE SHERIFF
TOOK THE POT.
In the eyes of the law all gambling- is illegal and
of course poker comes under the ban. Whenever
the law gets mixed up with a poker game, the cards
have to take a back seat. Yet the law, or the law-
yers, who are the life of the law, are currently re-
ported to know a great deal about poker from
practical experience. It is supposed that they
learn the game when they are young and do not
realize how wicked it is. Then, when they advance
in years, and have to take big fees from corpora-
tions that can do no wrong, they forget all about
the days of their youth. This probably accounts
for some of the curious decisions we hear from
the bench, when poker is in court.
A New York man who kept a cigar store, was
hauled up before a magistrate for keeping a gamb-
ling den. A detective went into the room back of
the store and found five longshoremen playing
'T have the kitty here as evidence," said the de-
''What has a cat got to do with the game?"
asked the magistrate.
"I said a kitty," repUed the detective.
*'Well, isn't a kitty a cat? Produce her."
The detective explained what a kitty was, and
the magistrate Hstened with a keen air, as if he
was imbibing novel information. Then he de-
manded to know who owned the kitty, and as the
"Not always," chuckled the judge on the bench.
cigar man said he didn't, and the longshoremen
couldn't be found, the case was dismissed and the
kitty was confiscated for the good of the poor.
A judge on the district court bench of Minne-
sota was more frank and also more learned. The
business methods of a furniture dealer who made a
sky rocket failure were being looked into, and in
POKER AND JURISPRUDENCE. 69
the course of the trial it was developed that he had
been playing cards rather recklessly, and a story
of how he went against a sure thing and lost $2,500
at one sitting cropped out.
It seems that the furniture man was introduced
to a stranger at the Merchants' Hotel in St. Paul,
and a game was soon raging. The three men were
in it, and the introducer played the double cross on
the furniture man. At a certain time he was to
drop out and signal what the stranger had.
The furniture man caught a bob tail flush, and
his friend signalled that the stranger had only one
small pair. Our friend then drew one card and
proceeded to bluff. The stranger raised him, and
in a short time $2,500 in bills were piled up. When
the show down came our friend had nothing and
the stranger scooped in the pot on a pair of jacks.
"By the way," interrupted the creditor's counsel
at this point, "which hand wins at poker?"
"The best one, of course," was the disgusted an-
"Not always," chuckled the judge on the bench,
and a prolonged laugh passed around the room.
"You admit, then," continued the lawyer, se
verely, "that, knowing as you did by your friend's
pretty system of private telegraphy, that this
stranger had only a small pair that you run up the
stakes to $2,500?"
70 JACK POTS.
"Well, now wasn't that a very unusual proceed-
''Oh, I don't know," broke in the judge, with
the air of a man full of information on the subject
under discussion, "I suppose the witness argued
that having bet on the cards it was his best play to
bluff the stranger out, because, you see, he drew
only one card while the other man drew two, and
had a pair of jacks all the time, don't you perceive?
Under such circumstances a play of that kind
would win nine times out of ten."
Sojne of the old lawyers looked reproachfully at
the judge for giving the thing away in that fashion,
but the youngsters thought it the best joke of the
Another learned jurist who could play poker was
Judge Walker, of Kentucky, who was very strict
/ on the bench but a jovial companion in private
life. It had been the custom of the lawyers travel-
ing the circuit to indulge in a friendly game of
poker nearly every night after court adjourned,
and Judge Walker occasionally took a hand in the
One night in Bracken County the court and the-
lawyers joined in a friendly game the evening they
arrived, and the next morning before court oper d,
the judge was seen in earnest conversation with the
When court opened the judge delivered the
usual charge to the Grand Jury, and then added :
POKER AND JURISPRUDENCE. 71
*'I am informed that of late gambling- has been
rampant in this county, despite vigorous efforts to
suppress it, and it is your duty to bring to justice
the occasional as well as the persistent offenders."
Then he turned to the attorneys, and continued :
"Gentlemen, you are officers of the court, and as
such are sworn to uphold the laws and constitution
of the State. You have been playing poker, con-
trary to the statutes in such cases made and pro-
vided. Each of you will be fined $10 upon the
return of indictments, which I now instruct the
jury to bring in."
Turning to the prosecuting- attorney, he said:
"You are not only a lawyer, but the prosecuting
attorney, sworn to bring offenders to justice. You
will pay $25. Walker," laying his hand on his own
breast, ''you are not only a lawyer but a judge,
and your case is the w^orst of all. You will pav
He paid the fine, as did each of the lawyers, and
it broke up the game on that circuit.
Chicago has produced an official who would take
issue with that Kentucky judge. He isn't a lawyer,
but he was a police inspector, and that is the next
thing to it. He instructed the police to close all
places where stud poker, faro, keno and other
gambling might be found, but not to touch the
harmless game of draw. In explanation, the in-
spector said that he regarded draw poker as on
a par with whist, euchre, soUtaire and tiddledy-
"I regard poker as an innocent game," he said,
with a judicial air, ''and a harmless diversion. It
is true that money can be
bet on it, but the same
is true of the other
games I have mentioned.
Poker should be played
with beans or buttons,
and I understand
that it is quite a
favorite with fam-
W hen asked
whether he sup-
posed the club
men used beans
or buttons, he re-
plied that he re-
garded the inci-
dent as closed.
As it happens, how-
ever, this police Solomon
has backing in no less a personage than Chief Jus-
tice Beatty, of the Cahfornia Supreme Court, who
has decided that in the eyes of the law poker is
not a game that comes under the head of gambling.
This decision was the result of an application
Laying his hand on his own breast —
you will pay $50.
POKER AND JURISPRUDENCE. 73
for a writ of habeas corpus made by Julius Meyer,
who was held to answer on a charge of perjury.
He was a juror in a case where the defendant was
on trial for robbing the proprietors of a faro bank.
Meyer was asked by the counsel for the defend-
"Do you know a man named Carroll or Ross or
Webster, the men who were proprietors of the
gambling house at 620 Market street?"
To which he replied: "No, sir, I have nothing
to do with such places."
After the trial it was discovered that Meyer was
a constant visitor at certain poker establishments,
and was occasionally employed to help the game
along by taking a hand to revive interest. On this
information the district attorney made out a com-
plaint in which he charged Meyer with perjury.
In the lower court the ex-juror was found guilty,
but Chief Justice Beatty reversed this decision.
In his opinion he said :
'Toker playing for money, however objectiona-
ble in fact, in the eyes of the law is as innocent as
chess or any game played for recreation and its
votaries and the places where it is played are not
criminal. There is no inconsistency, therefore, be-
tween the declaration of the petitioner that he had
nothing to do with such places as a faro bank, and
the fact he did frequent club-rooms where poker
was played for money; And since there is neither
74 JACK POTS.
evidence nor accusation of any other false state-
ment made by him it follows that he cannot be
held for perjury and must be discharged from cus-
As may be imagined this decision created a sen-
sation, but the justice stuck to it, and the poker
players of 'Frisco felt like voting him a set of
silver, but didn't dare to.
\\^hen Judge Y — was on the northern New
York circuit he was noted as a card player, in fact
it was a passion with him, and hardly a night passed
that he did not set down to a game of some
kind. He was not particular, as he played all
games equally well, and all in the same calm and
judicial style. This fact made him especially strong
at poker, but he never took advantage of it to
win any special amount of money. It was the
game he was after, and as a rule he would call even
when he had a strong hand, when he thought the
betting showed signs of exceeding reasonable lim-
One night he sat in a game at the Lawyers' Club
in Buffalo, where the stakes were never high, and
the usual limit was a five-dollar bill. It had been
a trying day in court, with a very complicated case.
The lawyer for the defense was a little fellow named
Perkins, a peppery chap, who made a specialty of
badgering witnesses, and making objections to
every bit of evidence that did not come his way.
POKER AND JURISPRUDENCE. 75
He had had a very unlucky day, as Judge Y — was
very clear headed and not inclined to let a lawyer
run over him as some judges do. Consequently he
sat down on Perkins extremely hard on about
twenty different occasions, and overruled all his
objections with promptness and dispatch. A law-
yer is supposed to take such matters as part of the
game, but Perkins was a man who harbored re-
sentment at being shown up.
When the game was made up, the judge sat at
the right of Perkins, and the little lawyer gave the
big judge a glance that boded him no good. The
game had not been in progress ten minutes before
it w^as evident that Perkins was going to make the
judge his meat if possible. You may have seen
such a game. Perkins wouldn't stay in a hand
unless the judge w-as also in, and he bucked at him
without ceasing. Of course the other players
noticed it and exchanged significant glances, but
the judge appeared to be oblivious.
Time and again Perkins would bet the limit
before the draw when it was the judge's age, and
when it was his age he was sure to raise the judge
out if possible. This was rather a dangerous game
against a cool player, and had the judge been
vengeful he could have broken the peppery player
on several occasions. But he laughed and talked,
smoked cigars and took an occasional nip of old
rye, and let Perkins get away with his transparent
76 JACK POTS.
bluffs with the best of good nature. And, as may
be imagined, Perkins kept getting hotter and hot-
ter all the time.
At last it got down to a pot where everybody
appeared to have a fair hand, at least everybody
stayed. It was lifted several times before the draw.
The judge took three cards, the other three men
two apiece and Perkins drew one.
It was Perkin's age. The man to his left
chipped, the next man raised him one, the next
man called, so did the judge, and Perkins raised it
the limit. One man dropped out, the other called,
and the judge raised Perkins the limit.
''Hello," said that gentleman, with a thinly
veiled sneer. "Motion overruled, hey?"
''Looks that way," replied the judge, calmly.
"Then I'll have to take an exception," retorted
Perkins. "Raise you five."
The other two players threw up their cards.
They saw at once that a fight was on between Per-
kins and the judge and they didn't want to be
pinched. The judge raised back the limit, and
thus it sawed back and forth for about ten times,
Perkins all the while getting madder and madder,
the judge cool as if hearing an action for simple
By this time there was quite a small army of
spectators around the table ; the exhibition of ran-
cor was an unusual sight in that club. Some of
POKER AND JURISPRUDENCE.
them interjected a few jocular remarks with the
hope of giving the game a more gentle turn, but
by this time Perkins was white to the lips, and
one might have thought he was playing for his
''Come, come," said the president of the club at
length. "We don't want
any one to lose a fortune
here. In a friendly game,
"Make a final
suggested one of
said the judge,
shall we show
down as it is?"
ly. "L insist on
another bet." He
threw thirty dol-
lars on the table.
"You can't over-
The judge bit off the end of a fresh cigar with
aggravating deliberation, lit it, laid his cards face
down, and counted out thirty dollars. "Now, sir,"
Perkins sunk into a heap like a
pile of old clothes.
78 JACK POTS.
he said, leaning" back in his chair in his well known
attitude on the bench, ''produce your witnesses."
Perkins, shaking like a leaf, but with a triumph-
ant grin on his face, spread out his hand on the
table and exhibited four deuces.
''The court," said the judge, sternly, "decides
that the witnesses are unworthy of credence."
Then he laid out his cards and disclosed four
treys. Perkins sunk into a heap like a pile of old
clothes, and actually gasped as he saw the judge
gather up the money and chips, and leave the table.
"Damn," he said, faintly. "Overruled again !"
Where the following described game took place
deponent sayeth not,' and it is not essential, as the
only important part of it is the ending. There
were four players, but there was nothing out of
the ordinary until it came to a jack pot, or rather,
this particular jack pot, and only the judge and
the colonel were in that.
It had been made for $25 as a starter, and each
of the four players had sweetened it four times with
a five-dollar chip, before there came an opener.
The colonel picked up his cards, glanced care-
lessly at them, smiled blandly, and said, softly :
ril bust that for fifty, so as to let you all in."
Two of the players thanked him with great cor-
diality, and stayed out pleasantly. The judge, who
was the last to have a say, looked at his cards care-
fully and an expression of supreme disgust settled
POKER AND JURISPRUDENCE. 79
on his face. He held the cards by the corner and
made a slight motion as if to throw them in the
The colonel's hand twitched nervously. It
looked as if it would be a case of showing openers
and raking in the rich stakes and for reasons that
will appear later the colonel was reluctant to show
his hand at that stage.
The judge made another motion as if he were
inclined to throw up his hand and the colonel said :
''What are you going to do, judge?"
The judge went through his hand again, with
the despairing look intensified.
''Ain't afraid to play, are you?" inquired the
"A little bit," replied the judge, "but I hate to
see you run away with the pot in this fashion. I
guess I'll see what you are doing this on, anyhow."
Then he made good the opening bet.
They drew cards. The colonel took two and the
judge, after much painful deliberation, decided that
one was about all he wanted.
The colonel then promptly bet another fifty
dollars, and the judge, after thinking it over, saw
him and raised five dollars ; the colonel came back
with another fifty-dollar raise.
The judge laid his hand on the table, pulled out
a roll of bills and counted off three liundred dol-
"Vn tilt that about two hundred and fifty," he
The colonel gasped. He looked at his hand and
then at the very respectable pile of chips and cur-
rency on the board. The judge's face still bore
that pained expression. The colonel thought over
the proposition for a minute and then went down
into his clothes. By hard scrabbling he managed
to get two hundred and fifty dollars together, and
then he said, rather weakly: 'T'll call you."
" Why, you robber," he said, " you had them all the time."
The judge picked up his hand and spread it out
on the table. He had four fives.
The colonel gasped worse than ever as he
showed up three queens.
"Why, you robber," he said, "you had them all
POKER AND JURISPRUDENCE. ^i
"Certainly," assented the judge, cheerfully.
''But you made a couple of motions as if you
were going to throw up your cards."
''My boy,'^ said the judge, solemnly, as he
stowed away the wad of bills, "I think it would be
a good thing for you to go to some night school
w^here there is a complete course in that noble
game known as draw poker."
But wiien we get down to what may be called
the lower walks of jurisprudence, it is seen that
law and poker mix with sometimes curious results.
This is illustrated in the trials and adventures of
two gentlemen of the East who went South and
West to do the country.
In a general way they were on the make, but
in this case their specialty was in bunkoing con-
fiding farmers out of farms and crops in various
ways not necessary to describe here. In the course
of time these two rascals came to Bugg Centre, in
Arkansas. One of the gentlemen, on his return
to civilization, related the happenings of that small
burg in a spirited manner.
"It didn't take us long to get acquainted, and
the glad hand was put out everywhere, generally
with a jug attached to it. Towards evening of
this welcoming day somebody suggested a little
game of draw just to pass away the time, and a
tall, lanky man said that as it was pretty warm we
might as well go to his house and play on the
82 JACK POTS.
'piazzer' while his daughter played the 'pianner'
''I wasn't stuck on the piano business, as music
always did disconcert me when playing cards, but
I couldn't very well make any objection. So we
went there, and in about half an hour the music
didn't bother me in the least. I don't know who
taught those fellows to play cards, but it was the
softest proposition I ever encountered.
"Tobe — that was my partner — and I just looked
at each other. We didn't have to do any crooked
work ; the other four fellows just threw their money
away, making the biggest fool bets I ever saw. I
never found any money in my life, but this was the
nearest to it.
''By ten o'clock we had all the money in sight,
and Tobe said wx'd better be starting out, as it
was a long walk home, and the moon would be low
down before we could reach the hotel. Our lanky
host asked us to stay all night, but we refused.
The fact is, we were so well satisfied with the rake-
ofif that we meant to skip early the next morning.
''We started through the woods just loaded
down with cash, and pretty near four hundred dol-
lars winner, and we did some pretty joyous talking,
when all of a sudden we heard dogs baying behind
us. We both knew they were hounds, and Tobe
said somebody was coon hunting, although it was
rather late in the year for that sport.
POKER AND JURISPRUDENCE. ^3
'Then he began to tell me about a coon hunt
he was once in, and he was getting to the interest-
ing part when he broke off and cried : Tard, get
a tree ! Those dogs are after us.'
"I never was good at tree climbing, but I got
up one in a hurry and Tobe took another. In
about two minutes the meanest lot of big mouthed,
mangy hounds you ever saw were howling and
prancing around under us. We both prayed that
someone would come, and sure enough someone
did. It was the tall, lank man.
He came up and quieted the dogs, and then
leaned on a long double-barreled gun, while he
delivered a short address.
''He said that he was mighty pained to do what
he had to do, but it was his duty. The fact was
that Bugg Centre had been victimized several times
in the last year by strangers who came into the
community and cleaned it out in various ways. He
was sorry to have to assert that we had returned
the hospitality extended to us in a cruel way.
"We had gone into a friendly game with the
Mayor, the Marshal, the County Treasurer and
the Sheriff, which latter was himself. In a moment
of confidence the Treasurer had staked the other
gentlemen with all the available county funds, and
we had skillfully — he would not say dishonestly —
won them all. After our departure the little band
of officials talked over the matter and came to the
84 JACK POTS.
conclusion that it was the duty of the Sheriff to
make amends for this error, and here he was.
"He informed us that he construed his duty to be
to make us shell out all our winnings, and, as his
fee, any other small change that we might have
about us. He added that the dogs were not hun-
gry, but would get so after awhile, and when we
came down they might appease their appetite on
us. Furthermore, there were some citizens of
Bugg Centre back in the woods, who could pick a
coon out of the highest tree in the darkest night in
''Did we come down? What else could we do?
We did. We threw the money we had down on the
ground, the Sheriff gathered it up, whistled to his
dogs and went off. Tobe and I slid down, shook
hands with each other mournfully, and in twenty-
four hours we were out of Arkansas. I'll never go
there any more, either on business or pleasure.
Honor? They don't know the meaning of the
ALL ABOUT JACK POTS A $1,200,000 JACK DIDN't
KNOW GREENBACKS WON ON TWO DEUCES
A BOSTON man's NARROW ESCAPE.
'Jack pots," said a veteran campaigner, "is the
The grammar is bad, the sentiment will be rec-
ognized as irreproachable. The inventor of jack
pots is unknown, but his name has been alternately
praised and cursed by players for ages. Southern-
ers have declared that more than a million niggers
have been lost on bob tailed flushes, but that isn't
a circumstance to the money lost on jack pots.
Of course somebody won the money, but the win-
ner is not entitled to any consideration in a poker
game ; he can take care of himself.
A jack pot is a delusion and a snare. When a
fellow is behind the game a jack pot offers a tempt-
ing chance to play even on one hand. Of five
players it has been calculated that an average of
three will stay in a jack pot, and it usually has
been sweetened three or four times before the
opening. That makes a pot worth playing for.
Now suppose you pick up a pair of jacks. Some
players will pass on jacks and not come in unless
another player opens the pot. Most players come
86 JACK POTS.
in on jacks. Now comes the question how to play
it. If you are the last to say, you may be pretty
certain that you have the best hand to go, but if
you open it lightly all hands will stay, and some
one with a measley pair of fours will draw out on
you. Therefore it is good play to open the pot for
the limit, and thus scare away the little fellows if
you can. But if they stay and you do not better
your hand, you may be certain that you are beaten,
and your only chance to win is to make a big bluff.
If you help your hand, even with a small pair, you
have a right to think that you have a winner.
On the other hand, if you start out with threes
or better, it is good play to open the pot for a small
sum, so as to let in the other players. Then there
is a chance that some one with a pair of queens
or better will draw another and beat you, but it
won't do to think of that, or you can't play cards.
The most aggravating hand to have on opening
is two pairs. It is much easier to draw one more
to a pair than it is to make a full hand out of two
pairs, yet they have such a ponderous' look that
you can't help playing them after the draw. The
safest policy is to call the first chance if you are
The real agony, however, comes to the man with
a small pair who sees the opener, catches his card
and then has it beaten by the opener, who also
catches his card. Of course, arguing from the
ALL ABOUT JACK POTS. 87
ethical side, he ought to be beaten; the opener
having the best hand at the start ought to win
out; but that reasoning will not pacify the loser.
One of the problems of the jack pot is in rela-
tion to splitting openers. Suppose you open on
jacks and all the others come in cheerfully, and
you realize that you are up against threes and at
the same time discover that you have a four flush.
Then it is your play to split your jacks and draw to
tlie flush. But at the end of the hand you must
show your pair, so you place one jack on the table
in front of you under a stack of chips and let it
lay there until it is time to show up. That is fair
enough and plain enough, but it in a measure gives
away your hand.
The New York Sun comes to the rescue in its
own original way. The question is frequently re-
ferred to its card expert, and he always decides it
in the same way. This is the way he talks :
''A player may open a jack pot on a pair and
split the pair to draw to a straight or flush without
in any manner calling the attention of any other
player to the play. The discards must be placed in
a pile in front of the next dealer, and the players
must discard in order, beginning with the age.
Then the discard pile gives indisputable evidence
of what each player discards."
How deliciously simple that is! The players
must discard in order ! This is a theory, not a con-
88 JACK POTS.
dition. The Sun man apparently thinks that poker
players are like soldiers at roll call each one an-
swering to his name as called and no one daring
to speak out of turn. As a matter of poker fact,
no one ever saw a game where the players dis-
carded in regular order. Some men are always
slow in making up their minds, and the last man is
just as liable to pitch away his discard first, so that
the discard is never a reliable guide as to the
order in which the cards were dropped. Then
again, while two or three men are betting one of
the others is almost certain to pick up the remain-
ing cards and shuffle them or to mix them up in
the fashion some players have of "seeing what they
would have got."
In ideal poker every move is made according to
Hoyle — or the Sun — but poker isn't ideal. Men
will not discard in regular order and there is no
''must" about it. There is no umpire to direct
the play or call down the player who discards out
of his turn. The Sun man has frequently an-
nounced that he is his own authority and it looks
as if he were his own poker player; he plays cards
wdth himself, where everything moves according
to his rules. Nobody else plays that way. In
splitting openers, anchor down the splitter in front
of you, and then there can be no dispute.
Another point while we are about it, which ap-
plies to all kinds of hands. It is a rule in poker
ALL ABOUT JACK POTS. 89
playing that if the card is faced before the draw, the
player must take it; if it faced while drawing, the
player can't take it. But, what then? Does he
get the next card, or must he wait until the others
are served? There are two opinions. One says
that he ought to get the next card because it
wasn't his fault that the card was faced. The other
says that if an extra card is served that deprives all
the players that follow of the cards they ought
to have had, and that so long as he has to take a
card to which he was not originally entitled, what
difference does it make if he has to wait until all
the others are served? This side seems to have
rather the best of the argument, and it is the view
taken by most poker coteries.
Speaking of innovations on jack pots — pro-
gressing up to aces and then down again — another
one comes to light, but it is not dangerous. It
appears to have been evolved from the active brain
of a St. Louis sport. He says :
"Of late years the old-fashioned ante-bellum
game of poker has been superseded by the plan of
playing all jack pots. This, of course, made
swifter play, while at the same time it enabled
everybody to gauge to some extent the strength
of the hand held by the man who opened the pot.
But the latest evolution of poker is now at hand,
and it consists of allowing pots to be opened on
90 JACK POTS.
'That is to say, if A has only a pair of deuces
and is wiUing to take chances he can begin the
betting. Of course, if he is very close to the
dealer he will pass on such a small pair, and will
hold his hand to await the action of B, C, D, et al.
''The advantages of this plan may not seem
obvious, but I have yet to see the poker player who
does not consider it a big improvement on the cast
iron system of adhesion to jacks. In the first place,
it gives more rapidity and excitement, and that is
what the player yearns for. In the next place, it
gives the loser a far better chance to get even.
Everybody will be coming-in on short pairs — tens
and under — and the chances of making strong
hands are increased because of the increased fre-
quency of the draw.
"This open-on-any-pair game is, I think, quite
likely to gain the favor of the pasteboard loving
public, and crystallize into permanent form. The
conservative element will kick against it, but will
finally give way, just as it had to concede the all-
jack system, which was for a long time fought bit-
terly by the ancient regime."
Now doesn't that sound funny. To open a pot
on any pair is precisely what is done now in
straight poker, and the only thing he bars out is
the opening of the pot on nothing, and how often
does that occur in a game? Of course there would
be more pots played, but, what size would they be?
ALL ABOUT JACK POTS. 9'
It would be a miracle if everyone would pass out if
I wo deuces were openers. There would be a play
on every deal. The whole scheme is rubbish.
General Miles once told a good story about the
biggest jack pot on record. He prefaced it by two
astonishing statements — the first that he did not
play poker himself, and the second that the game
has rather gone out of the army. No one would
think of contradicting the gallant general in com-
mand of our armies, but, at the same time — well,
here is the story :
'T think I can claim to have been a witness of
the biggest game as to stakes that was ever
"Tell us about it, General," said Colonel Ochil-
tree. 'T have some pretty good poker stories in
"And so have I," said Henry Watterson. "For
instance, Joe Blackburn's about the game played
in the trenches at the battle of Shiloh, with a table
made on the bodies of the comrades of the play-
"Well," chimed in John W. Mackay, "as to
stakes, I will enter a claim for some of the gamcrD
played in the good old days of Nevada, when the
boys had the Comstock lode to draw upon. But,
General, let us have your story."
"It was in the spring of 1865," began the Gen-
eral, "when Davis, Lee and the rest of vou Confed-
erates, Watterson, were in full retreat from Rich-
mond toward Danville, and we were pressing you
night and day, hardly stopping to eat or sleep.
On the eve of the battle of Sailor's Creek"
''I was there," chipped in Ochiltree. "It was in
that battle I was wounded."
"That day," continued General Miles, "we over-
The biggest poker game that was ever played.
hauled and captured a Confederate wagon train
and found, greatly to the delight of our boys, that
several of the wagons were loaded wdth Confeder-
ate bonds and Confederate money in transit from
Richmond to whatever place the government now
on wheels might make a stand. The soldiers
ALL ABOUT JACK POTS. 93
simply helped themselves to the stuff by the hand-
fuls, and the officers, who had a pretty good idea
as to the value of the spoils, or rather, their lack
of value, did not care to deprive them of their
"At night, when we had knocked off work for
supper and a few hours rest and sleep, I had occa-
sion to ride along the line, and I found a poker
game going on at every camp fire. Stopping to
watch one of the games, this is what I heard :
" 'How much is the ante ?'
" *A thousand dollars.'
" 'And how much has it been raised? Five
thousand? Well, here goes! I raise it ten thou-
" 'Good ! I see you and go you ten thousand
dollars better. Twenty-five thousand to draw
"Then cards were drawn, and presently a bet
was made of fifty thousand dollars. Some one
went one hundred thousand better, but he was
ruled down. Fifty thousand was the limit. How-
ever, there was five hundred thousand dollars in
the pot when it was hauled in by the winner, who
had three treys and a pair of kings. I expressed
my surprise at the size of the game and told the
boys that they had better go slow or their funds
would run out.
" 'Never fear, General,' replied one of them.
'we'll keep within our means. You ought to
have been here ten minutes ago. We had a jack-
pot of one million, two hundred thousand dollars !'
"I think you will agree with me," concluded
General Miles, "that no bigger poker game than
that was ever played."
A sergeant in the Seventh Cavalry, then sta-
tioned in Dakota, told me a story that is a mate
to this. It was at
He made them shell out all the notes
they had stuffed in their clothes.
the very begin-
ning of the war
and his regi-
ment was in Vir-
ginia. He had a
squad out on a
tion, and they saw
ahead of them a
o f Confederates
with a wagon.
They gave chase
and the Confed-
erates got away
and left the
The sergeant and his men examined the wagon
and found that it was a U. S. wagon, probably cut
out from a train by a daring party of Confederates.
ALL ABOUT JACK POTS. 95
It contained twenty boxes, which they pried open.
The boxes were full of greenbacks, all brand new.
Not a man in the party had ever seen a green-
back and had no idea that they were good money,
so they grabbed them out by fistfuls, and set down
to play poker with them. In this occupation they
were discovered by another squad of Union troops,
this time headed by a captain, who knew something
about finance. He made them shell out all the
notes they, had stuffed in their clothes, and the
wagon was taken back to camp and a frantic pay-
My friend used to tell this story with tears in his
eyes. If they had only known the value of their
capture they might have taken a couple hundred
thousand apiece, hid it in their clothes, threw
away some empty boxes, and brought the rest vir-
tuously back to camp, and been rich for the rest of
their days. It is rather a curious story, and I
don't vouch for it.
It seems that poker is played in rather peculiar
fashion in the upper circles of New York, if the
following little tale is true. It was a choice coterie
on the top floor of a fashionable Gotham club
The jack pot had been around several times,
and there was an accumulation of dollars in the
centre of the table.
The dealer picked up the cards and threw them
out one by one, after the manner of poker games,
and the gentleman on his left discovered that the
first three were deuces. He immediately opened
the pot for fifty cents, which was the terrible limit,
and was rather startled when it came to him again
to note that it cost him two dollars more to get in.
He paid the price, but such was his agitation that
he forgot he had three of a kind, discarded and
Before picking up his cards he realized that he
had made a bull. Believing that he had lost all
chance of winning the pot, he was about to throw
down his hand when a
gentleman who sat be-
hind him, and was
marked, blandly :
"See here, old
man, you have
four cards just
alike. Is t h a t
The dealer leaped to his feet and shouted:
thought you had four of a kind;
where are they?"
growled the club
man. Then, with
seeming indifference, he added: "Fifty up.
Everybody laughed and stayed out — naturally.
Nobody cared to dispute the pot with him, and he
raked it in.
ALL ABOUT JACK POTS. 97
The occasion being rather phenomenal, he threw
down his cards face up, and he still had two deuces.
The dealer leaped to his feet and shouted: "I
thought you had four of a kind. Where are they ?"
"Four spades and a deuce of hearts," replied the
There was another laugh all around and the
game went on, and it was not until the next time
they met that somebody thought to ask how he
opened the pot.
He was fortunate that he was not playing in a
cowboy game. In fashionable circles the man
who opens a jack pot when he hasn't openers loses
the pot ; in other circles he loses his life along with
the pot. There are certain men who will not ac-
cept such excuses as "Forgot," "Thought that jack
was a king," or something like that. They see
nothing in it but a deliberate attempt to steal a
pot, and guns are pulled instanter.
In the early 'eighties, when Texas was really
tough, and a man's life was not worth much more
than a mule's, a young Bostonian, just from col-
lege, landed in the Lone Star State. He had three
thousand dollars, a good education and all the
astounding conceit that goes with a college educa-
tion. He was way up in the classics, had a smatter-
ing of the modern languages, thought he knew
"life" in all its phases — having imbibed the idea
from three months' experience in the streets of
98 JACK POTS.
Boston and New York — and had more than a no-
tion that he could go West and carve out his for-
tune as easily as drinking a beer.
The first place he struck was Dallas, and he
dropped a few hundreds there just for a starter.
The further he moved west the easier he became,
and when he got to the limits, he had only about
five hundred of his original three thousand. He
was a gay boy, and rapidly fell into Texan ways,
but somehow he couldn't catch on. An occasional
spurt at cow punching kept his head above water
for a time, but he realized that the day was rapidly
approaching when he would have to return to
Boston with the sad confession that he had
dropped his pile, and would be obliged to run up
against the stern realities of life in the guise of
a teacher of a country school.
It was gall and wormwood to him and he used
every effort to stave ofT the evil day. Among the
efforts was bucking the tiger, but the beast was
unkind. He see-sawed back and forth, but he
could never make a real killing, and it was while
in this precarious state of affairs that he sat in a
game of poker.
The fates looked rather propitious. The four
other men in the game were cattlemen with big
wads and a generous style of betting. They were
also square as a die. Horace — we will call him
Horace, as befits a Boston man — knew that he
ALL ABOUT JACK POTS. 99
was the best player in the bunch, and if the cards
went his way he had more than a chance of fatten-
ing his wad.
And the cards did run his way. It was a rare
thing that he did not start out with a pair and he
helped his hand about four times out of five. Three
times he held a full house, and he got so that he
was almost afraid to play flushes he held so many.
He really did not dare to play to the full strength
of his hands, for fear of exciting suspicion, al-
though he was playing without a thought of trick-
ery. Once or twice he apologized for his luck, but
the other men laughed good naturedly.
*'Play your luck, my boy," said one of them. 'T
^understand that you haven't had your share since
J striking this country."
This was true enough, and so he played a little
harder, until at the end of three hours he was nearly
four thousand dollars ahead of the game.
Then there came a jack pot. There had been
jack pots before, but nothing out of the way. It
was the Boston man's deal, and when he picked up
his cards he saw that he had a pair of kings, a jack,
a four and a five. There was twenty-five dollars in
the pot to start ofif. Everybody passed and it was
up to Horace. He opened it for twenty-five. Two
men stayed, the other two dropped out.
The first man to draw took one card, the next
man drew three and Horace took three. He laid
lOO JACK POTS.
his pair of kings face down in front of him, tossed
the discard into the deck, and bet fifty dollars with-
out looking at his draw. The man that drew one
card raised it a hundred, the next man dropped
out, and Horace stopped to think.
A one card evidently meant a four flush or a
four straight. If he had caught either Horace was^
beaten, even if he caught the third king; if it was
a blui¥ two kings w^ere good as wheat. He looked
at his draw\ A ten spot, a six and a deuce. So he
still had his pair of kings. He tossed in another
hundred. The cattleman came back at him with two
hundred and fifty. Then Horace picked up the
cards lying in front of him, more with a desire to
have time to think than any other motive.
Then he felt a cold chill stealing up his spine
until his hair crept on his head, and a sickness came
all over him. He had kept the jack and thrown
away one of the kings ! He sat there a full minute
and did some very rapid thinking. If it had been
an ordinary deal he would have thrown his hand
into the deck without comment, but it was a jack
pot, and he had opened it, so that he must show
He said afterward that what he should have
done was to have thrown down his hand, explain
how he had made a mistake, and forfeit the po[.
He thinks they would have accepted the explana-
tion in good faith, although he admits that they
ALL ABOUT JACK POTS. loi
might not. But all he realized then was that he
was in a terrible predicament. To open a jack pot
without openers was generally regarded as an at-
tempt to steal the pot, and treated as detected
theft usually is in Texas. Here he had been win-
ning right along, and holding phenomenal hands,
and he couldn't help but feel that under the same
circumstances he would have had suspicions. He
saw himself in imagination shot full of holes, or
maybe with a dirk thrust into his vitals, and the
folks at home never knowing what had become of
While all these gloomy thoughts were running
through his head, he mechanically raised another
hundred, which was the worst thing he could have
done, because while he had an excuse before lifting
his cards now he had none. He realized that also
when it was too late, and another cold chill w^ent
capering along his spinal column.
The cattleman fingered his cards, and Horace
saw that it was either a call or a lay down, and then
would come the show down of openers, and
Just then there broke out a terrific commotion
in the rear of the saloon, which w'as also an eating
house. The cook had upset a pan of gravy over his
legs, and in his jumping around had upset the
stove, and the kitchen was on fire. As the whole
structure was of wood and the fire department any-
thing but prompt or reliable, there was a strong
probability of what the reporters call a holocaust.
The cook and his assistant, two men who were
eating, the barkeeper and the boss tore around with
rushed in from
the street, and of
course the game
Just then there broke out a terrific commotion in the rear of the saloon.
of the cattlemen swept cards, chips and money into
his hat and all five players lit out. Horace said that
when he dropped his cards on the floor he felt as if
he was getting rid of a thousand pound weight.
ALL ABOUT JACK POTS. 103
When the excitement had subsided, and the fire
was extinguished with small loss, all hands went
back to the saloon to take a drink. Then the cat-
tleman took off his hat and emptied the contents
on the bar.
''What's to become of this?" he asked.
"Fm willing to divide it," said the Boston man,
'Tf you had the best hand it's yours," returned
the cattleman. ''What did you have?"
"I had only a pair of kings," replied Horace,
looking him squarely in the eyes. That was no lie,
because he did have a pair of kings, although he
was fool enough to throw one away. ^
"I had a four flush to go," said the other man,
"and I didn't fill, but I made a pair of queens. The
Horace felt another great weight lifted off his
mind when he realized that he really had had the
winning hand, and yet he